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MDT to re-assess speed limit on 191

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After a series of collisions on U.S. Highway 191 near Big Sky this fall, which included one human fatality and three moose, the citizens of Big Sky have decided to take action.

The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce asked the Montana State Traffic Engineers to do a speed zone study from mile marker 43 to mile marker 53. This area—which spans from Moose Creek to Ophir School and is part of the Big Sky Resort Area District—has not seen a speed zone study since 2007.

“Anywhere else where you drive through a small [Montana] town, you have to slow down to 25,” said Robin Brower-McBride, the Big Sky Chamber’s Director.

The speed limit in that 10-mile area is currently 60 mph, unless the light is flashing at Ophir School District, in which case it decreases to 45 mph.

“A lot of people drive by so fast, that if they fail to look right, or Lone Peak is cloud capped, they miss Big Sky entirely,” Brower-McBride said, adding that people regularly call the Chamber from Hebgen Lake asking if they missed Big Sky.

“The question is: ‘Is this safe?’” Brower-McBride asked.

The Montana Department of Transportation and the Gallatin County Commission are coordinating the first traffic assessment this summer.

The study will be performed in during the busiest seasons, in both summer and winter—the chamber’s request was for March or April (before the resorts close) and August or September (before Labor Day). MDT will do the first assessment this summer.

The Chamber also asked MDT and the county commission to consider crash history statistics including human, wildlife and vehicular collisions, and other related issues like human foot traffic, vehicles turning off at the Spur Road, businesses, and horses crossing the road at Jake’s Horses.

Before any changes are made, all information gathered and recommendations will be presented to Gallatin County officials for review and comment, according to Danielle Bolan, a spokeswoman for the MDT – Traffic and Safety Bureau.

This past April, the Big Sky Owner’s Association successfully petitioned the Gallatin County Commission to limit the speed on Little Coyote Road to 25 mph.

Megan Paulson is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Outlaw Partners.

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